am writing this article from Toba Tek Singh, my home town, 300
kilometers away from Lahore, situated in the central Punjab. It is
mainly a peasant dominated area. No big feudal and main income of
this area comes from the crops like cotton, wheat, sugarcane
and maize, etc. In the Seventies, It was once a hub of peasant
movement led by the Stalinist Left. On 23rd march 1970, over
500,000 attended a peasant conference in the town.
Now the town is in the grip of religious fundamentalists. On the
main center of the town, we see the paintings of the myrters
(those youth who have been killed during the "holy" war
of Kashmir during the last few years). Many religious
madrasas (schools) can be found at every street corner.
The religious fundamentalist have not yet taken over the town by
vote, as Pakistan Peoples party and Muslim League, the two main
bourgeoisie parties still have the majority. But the street power
is in the hand of the religious fundamentalist. Many working class
youth have been recruited during the past years by the Jihadi
(holy war) organisation to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The
youth finding no possibility of jobs, can at least find the basic
ness cities at the religious schools and in the training camps.
was told by Javaid Hashmi, the central president of Muslim League,
in an informal chat, during the Alliance for Restoration of
Democracy meeting on 15th september that he is been invited many
times during the month to visit
those families who sons have become myrters (Killed during the
"holy" war) in Kashmir. Hashmi told me that when he
arrives at a certain house, he is been asked not to condole but to
congratulate the family for this great achievement. Then the
sweets are brought to be taken as a gesture of the happiness of
the family. So does the whole village from where these youth
normally comes. Javed Hashmii comes from Multan, a city around 100
kilometer from my home town Toba Tek Singh. It is same sad story
of most of the central and Southern Punjab areas from where the
bulk of the recruits come for these religious organisations.
I was in Lahore for four days after the Tuesday terrorist attack
on American cities. At Lahore, the mood among many workers and
ordinary citizens were of joy and happiness that the Americans
have been taught the lessons at last.
But there was also a sympathy for those been killed in the
terrorist attack. It was not a mood of fanaticism of all out
support for the religious fundamentalist. The ARD two days meeting
on 14,15 September, condemned the attacks but also a warning to
Americans that they should not attack the innocent citizens of
Afghanistan. The All Parties Conference organised by the
Jamaat-i-Islami on 16th September, which Labour party pakistan and
Peoples Party boycotted gave a more threatening warning to
Americans for any possible attack.
But at Toba Tek Singh, the mood was of fanaticism. As I arrived
here after six hours of driving from Lahore to see my aging
father, I was bombarded with questions by him. A trader all his
life, now fighting with the banks to give back the loans he has
once taken in the hope that the agriculture income will be better
but disappointed al the time. All his initiatives to enhance his
ever decreasing income went no where. All his life, he remained
loyal to Muslim League, a conservative bourgeoisie party.
When I condemned the attacks and also told what could happen to
the Talban government in future, and that the act has endangered
the lives of the Muslims across the glob, he was untouched and
told me that you could be the only one talking this in the town.
No one would support you here, he told me. He was of the view that
Talban will teach another historic lessons to the Americans that
the military regime in Pakistan have a little time left in power
as they are playing at the hands of the American. He said I am
very happy what has happened in America. IMF and World Bank has
destroyed my life and I am in the grip of the banks as my whole
agric business has been destroyed by these institutions. He told
that I can not afford to pay the price of the pesticides as the
state subsidies are gone and his orange garden has been ruined by
that. He told me that the whole town is happy about the incidents.
I spoke to Mamma ( his real name is Mohammed Sadiq but he is know
as mumma). He is a peasant working at the land on monthly wages.
Mumma told me that some one at last has taught a lesson to the
most powerful nations on the earth. How this could happen? I
asked him, He told me that it is the work of God, no one can
Today, on 17th September, I went to my village Chack Number 291,
Lahorianwala, where I was born, I spoke to one of my cousin Afzal.
He has small shop on the main road selling the little grocery
items he has and buying from the village women their share of the
crops, they will get after the whole day of work. The village
women are not paid in cash but some of the cotton for example they
will pick during the whole day of work. They will bring this to
the shops like Afzal, get some grocery and the remaining in cash.
Afzal told me that There is no way Talban will be defeated by the
Americans. How can they defeat the Talban when they can not defend
their own cities? he asked. It is great what has happened. He also
told me that many will take out demonstrations if American will
attack Pakistan or Afghanistan. "There is a great haterdnesss
against the military capitulation at the hands of Americans among
us" he told.
There were few more sitting there and had the same feelings as
Six days after the Tuesday attacks on American cities, it seems
that generally many are happy and feel the pride that at last some
one has done the job, they should be doing. It shows an utmost
haterdness against the American Imperialism among the general
masses. But the mood is turning in favor of the fundamentalists.
Once the attack by the Americans starts here, the military regime
will face an extra ordinary situation of demonstrations and
rallies against the attacks led by the religious fundamentalist.
One villager told me that the incident of America is like this
that if a peasant gets up in a village and fight against the
feudal lord with no weapons. No one in the village ever thought of
fighting against the feudal before. Then this peasant win the
fight, the whole village peasants will be very happy. So is
America, a big feudal lord of the world who have lost the fight at
the hands of some one without any resources, we must celebrate.
Whenever I raised the issue of innocent American loosing the
lives, the normal reaction was, yes we sympathies, but what about
those millions of Palestinians, Sudanese, Vietnamese and others
who have lost the lives at their hand. Who support Israel? is
another questions raised immediately by every one.
It is very clear we the progressive forces are among very few who
have to condemn terrorism, individual or state level.